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This year’s 19th annual DC Caribbean Carnival parade, scheduled for Saturday on Georgia Avenue NW, almost didn’t happen.

The annual procession, featuring costumed participants on flatbed trucks and on foot, requires a large police presence, and last year the D.C. Police Department hit organizers with an overtime bill, of which $53,000 is still owed. In May, Carnival Executive Director Loughton Sargeant told the Washington Informer that he was in negotiation with the Metropolitan Police Department and the Mayor’s office regarding the bill. Why so much money? In an email, Sargeant tells Arts Desk that last year’s overtime costs were for protection for the mayoral candidates who participated in the event.

Police are allowing this year’s parade to take place—-and they’re deferring payment of last year’s bill—-on one condition: Organizers agreed to shorten the route by 1.5 miles. So this year’s event, featuring 25 troupes, will start further south at Georgia and Kansas Avenue and end at Georgia Avenue and Bryant Street in a Howard University parking lot, rather than at Banneker Field.

While Sargeant is concerned for the merchants losing sales on the portion of Georgia that is no longer part of the parade, he says he’s confident that this year’s shorter route will be a success. “Most of the Caribbean islands are represented,” he writes. ”Once the parade kicks off you will see the colors and flags representing the various islands including the English-, Spanish-, and French-speaking islands.”

Expect flamboyantly feathered marchers and the frenetic, bouncy sounds of island music.  Most of the companies will feature booming soundsystems or pan drummers. There will be music and food in the afternoon after the parade at the Howard parking lot, which is being billed as “De Savannah,” as well as a number of evening concerts all weekend featuring numerous Caribbean stars.  Trinidadian soca star Iwer George will be headlining the post-parade Saturday afternoon event.

Sargeant, who says the parade draws more than 300,000 people each year, hopes the event can someday return to its longer length. In the meantime, he says his organization is working on an economic study to demonstrate the parade’s benefits for business along the parade route.

The D.C. Caribbean Carnival Parade takes place Saturday and starts at Georgia Avenue and Kansas Avenue NW at 11 a.m.  It heads south to the Howard Center parking lot at Georgia Avenue & Bryant Street NW, where the “De Savannah” marketplace will be open from noon to 8 p.m. “De Savannah” admission is $10.

Related concerts:

Friday June 24th:
Flags Till Morning (soca fest) from 10 pm till 4 am  featuring Iwer George, Makamillion
Leonce , Yankee Boy Diamond,  Pumpa,  Lyrical Orlando Octave, and Razor Show at The Hampton Center, 207 W. Hampton Place, Capital Heights, MD
Tickets are available  in advance at Crown Bakery 202-291-3009 ;Under The Coconut Tree 240-764-8301; Island delights 443-426-7601

Machel Montano and the HD Band from 9pm until 4 am at DC Star Nightclub, 2135 Queens Chapel Road NE.

Chutney Soca Affair from 9 pm until 4 am featuring Rikki Jai, X3ME International ft. Slnya Lakhan, Major Tassa Band, Calypsonian Saga, DJs Wayne, Easy E, and Daddy O at Mirage Hall, 1401 University Blvd., Hyattsville, MD.  Tickets $35 More At Door Tickets On Sale at Crown Bakery, 5409 Georgia Avenue NW, Caribbean Grocery
7505 New Hampshire Ave., Takoma Park, MD